Meta tags are something that used to be very important for SEO purposes.  There was a time when you could simply stuff more keywords into your meta tags than anyone else and you would outrank them.

Fortunately, search engines quickly caught on to this fact, and they stopped taking meta tags into consideration as far as ranking sites.  These days, most search engines do not use meta tags at all with regards to rankings, and those that do often give them very little weight.

But meta tags are definitely still important.  Sure, they may not make a difference to how well you actually rank in most of the search engines, but it is still important to use these tags on every page.

For one thing, you should be sure they are included for those search engines that do use them.  Ranking well in a smaller search engine can still bring you a significant amount of traffic.

More importantly, the meta description is vital for bringing you more traffic from the rankings that you do get.  Many search engines, including Google, use the meta description as the description displayed in their search engine results pages (SERPS).

If you do not fill out the meta description field, search engines will generally pull your site description from either you site’s DMOZ listing (if you have one), or from some a sampling of text from your page.

If you have text navigation on your site, you may find the description shown in the search engines makes no sense at all.  It could end up looking like a random list of keywords, and that would not encourage people to visit your site.

You need to make sure the description that shows up is one that will get people to click your listing instead of someone else’s.  It should accurately describe the topic of the page, but it should also be as enticing as possible.

One great way to make sure your description will pull clicks is to research the competition. Look at the descriptions of pages from other sites that rank on the first page for your target key phrases. Then you can write a description that is similar, but more exciting.  You will find that most pages have very boring descriptions, so this shouldn’t be too difficult.

Your meta description tag should be 155 or fewer characters. While it could be longer, you run the risk of Google cutting it off. To be safe, keep your description between 125 and 155 characters. This will generally be about two sentences and a total of 20-30 words.  This gives you plenty of room to come up with an exciting, effective description.